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Things to do in Maracaibo

  • Iglesia de Santa Barbara Santa Barbara Church Maracaibo, Venezuela
    The chapel of Santa Barbara or Immaculate Conception Church is steeped in history and controversy, beginning the year it was constructed in 1583.  Among its parishioners, there have been generals, Capuchin monks, bishops, the King of Spain and many popes.  Pope Benedict XIV appointed Fray Justo de Valencia the director of the chapel in 1750, but a question of ownership arose between the Brotherhood of Santa Barbara and the Arch Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception and it wasn't resolved until 1808; when it officially became the parish of Santa Barbara and four years later declared the Patroness of the Immaculate Conception.  Parish priest Jose Antonio Rincon and the governor of the state of Zulia, Jose Antonio Serrano decided that a newer church was needed in 1861, and the people of the city brought many contributions to the church for its rebuilding.  When the work was completed in 1866, Joaquin Piria became the parish priest. 

  • Lia Bermudez Art Center
    The art center is housed in a structure that was used as the city's market center or mall for many years; with the first market being destroyed by fire in 1927.  The many variations of building materials at the time involved the use of iron, and that is what the government decided to use.  A building was dismantled in England, transported and rebuild here as the new market place building, and was finished in 1931.  It was study, fireproof and very durable; but fell behind the times and in 1973, was closed and moved to another area.  Afterwards, it was decided that the building could be used for a cultural center that would promote artistic and cultural venues of the state of Zulia, where Maracaibo was.  It was closed in 1982, but the secretary of Culture, Lia Bermudez, asked the government about the continued use of the building since it was already remodeled and seemed in great shape.  It took a long time for the government to make a decision, but in 1990, the governor of the state, Oswaldo Alvarez Paz ordered the building be used for the Maracaibo Center for the Arts- Lia Bermudez and the old market was to become the headquarters. 

  • Vereda del Lago
    One of the most favorite parks in the city is the Vereda del Lago, running parallel with the shoreline of Lake Maracaibo, where off in the distance you can view the magnificent spectacle of the Rafael Urdaneta Bridge, that spans almost 7 miles of water across the lake.  It was opened in 2001 as the city's metropolitan park with over a 100 acres of land, gardens, sports venues, the Museum of Radio; a school of radio, computers and graphic design; and a zoo where the animals are able to be touched by the children that visit.  There is a football field, beach volleyball court and tennis courts that have been considered as a venue for the Davis Cup playoffs.  Thought to be the biggest metro park in the country, over 400,000 people come here every month.  There are huts and other structures that allow for the relief of the sun and heat, with 7 restrooms and three that have children/baby stations.  Along the way, small kiosks have sprung up that sell various snacks such as ice cream, empanadas, cheese cakes, potatoes, hamburgers, yogurt, hot dogs, strawberries and cream, Manduca, tumbarracnchos and other barbeque items.  A police station is housed in the park to make sure that there are no problems or altercations with the large amounts of crowds that come here; making sure of the safety of all citizens.  The city tram comes here for pickups, plus there are smaller trams that will take you around the park and many of the city's best attractions.  Tai chi chuan lessons and classes are held in the park's area by the ballpark and many military parades use the central walkways on their special days.  The zoo is fast becoming the favorite area for children, especially for those with disabilities or handicaps and help their therapists with special treatments.  The pets that can be petted and held are rabbits, chickens, ducks, tortoises, ostriches and an albino donkey.  Animal Planet has come here to do a special, as well as National Geographic and other universities from across the globe.  One very special venue is the nursery garden area where over 30,000 plants and flowers are grown for distribution around the park.  It has become a daily exercise course for runners, joggers and walkers of all ages; with 7 great playgrounds for the visitors children to enjoy.

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  • Casa de la CapitulaciónHouse of Capitulation Maracaibo, Venezuela
    Set within the confines of the center of the city, the Casa de las Capitulacion or House of Capitulation is a marvelous replica of the colonial architectural style of the mid 1700s that is still standing.  This Andalusian style was imported into Spain from Italy during the 18th century and then brought to the Americas by the immigrants colonizing these countries.  The house has big windows that let in the light of the day, and also the gentle breezes that flow throughout the afternoons.  The main hall is also important since it goes from the front door all the way to the garden areas in the rear with doors on either side of it leading into various rooms.  But what makes this home so important to the city, the state, country and all of South American is that the treaty was signed here giving the colonies of South America their sovereignty from Spain and was signed by Simon Bolivar in 1823.  In 1965, it became a National Historic Landmark and is visited by many people from all over the southern hemisphere to see where the signing took place that gave independence to many countries.  The Academia de la Historica del  Zulia and the Bolivarian Society can be found in it.

  •  Iglesia de San Francisco
    The church is a beautiful monument of historical and architectural significance, since the hero of the liberation of the countries of South America was given the title of Liberator here in 1818.  It is a wonderful example of Latin America baroque architectural styling and inside are some prominent colonial altarpieces.

Local Restaurants in Maracaibo
  • Mi Vaquita
    This great restaurant in Maracaibo, Argentina; the Mi Vaquita steak house has been serving the finest meats and excellent service for over forty years.  The special cut steaks,  including Black Angus meats, have made this a favorite among tourists and locals alike.  The Argentina pies and shrimp specialties draw many people from all over South America.  The restaurant also has its own unique collection of oddities including paintings, animals, figurines and tapestries.  For starters try the following; mushrooms with garlic, mozzarella sticks, cheese palmita, chopped my cow which is fried yucca, tostones, Palmira cheese and cream, four mini pies and Argentina pie.  Soups and salads include;  cream soup of the day, Asian soup with crab, Wakame, masago, salmon seasoned with soy emulsion and sesame oil, Caesar salad, onion soup of the day, ginger cream of carrot is soft cream of carrot with chicken broth and flavored with ginger, Insalata Caprese temerate is manzano rested in salt tomato stuffed with mozzarella and basil pesto, balsamic vinegar reduction oil and basil baked, chicken Caesar salad with grilled chicken, steak Caesar salad with tenderloin strips and salad fresh cow mi with romaine lettuce, endive, radishes, cherry tomato, dates, walnuts, cheeses, ementhal and honey mustard dressing with balsamic vinegar.  Cortes a la Parrilla offers; imported rear tip, ribeye, imported roast, T-bone, bbq ribs St. Louis is full rack of pork ribs smoked slow and grilled with half jojoto and fries, grilled minced cow for one is tenderloin, chicken filet, sausage with cheese Palmita picado, tomato and fries, heart of lomito, grilled pork chops is three chops grilled with Pig bbq sauce, special churrasco is NY sirloin small, heart of lomito tenderloin steak, T-bone steak, cowboy special is churrasco steak with half Caesar salad and potato basket and middle two hearts is middle east heart of tenderloin and heart or romaine with Roquefort sauce and stuffed baked potato.  Clasico de Mi Vaquita offers; pure point with Wasabi Madeira is rear Punta slices grilled over mashed potatoes, with spinach and Wasabi, Madeira wine sauce and mustard; Lomito Puerto Rico is a tenderloin medallion topped with avocado and ripe banana slices baked with mozzarella cheese; filet mignon is choice filet wrapped in bacon and topped with mushroom sauce; Lomito medallions in wine is three flambe tenderloin medallions in wine, mushroom and petit-pois; Lomito picat of garlic is chopped tenderloin sauteed in garlic, parsley and butter with mashed potatoes; black pepper steak with brandy is medallion of tenderloin grilled and flamed in brandy covered in black pepper sauce; Lomito Caprese is tenderloin braised with rosemary, paprika sauce and basil, tomato manzano, filled with mozzarella and basil pesto.

Churrasco steak Mi Vaquita Maracaibo, Venezuela

 

Grilled steak Mi Vaquita Maracaibo, Venezuela

 

Grilled Pork chops Mi Vaquita Maracaibo, Venezuela

 

Lomito Caprese Mi Vaquita Maracaibo, Venezuela

 

 

 

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  • Puente Rafael Urdaneta Bridge Puente Rafael Urdaneta Bridge Maracaibo,Venezuela
    The bridge over the lake spans the shortest points of Lake Maracaibo in the Zulia state allowing Maracaibo, Venezuela to be connected to the rest of its country.  The bridge is named after the general that helped get Venezuela its independence, and was built from 1958 until 1962.  The bridge is the third biggest in the world and is made of reinforced concrete because they knew that metal would erode too quickly in the environment.  Over 138,000 tons of cement was used, as well as 20,000 tons of metal, over 2600 people and 67,000 linear meters of pile drilling.  Originally planned and begun under the leadership of General Marcos Perez Jimenez, when his regime was overthrown, the president of the country, Romulo Betancourt finished and was the biggest bridge in the world for a long time; although it still is one of the biggest structures of reinforced concrete in the world.  It is the first of its kind, and the Venezuelans did without the help of outside sources.  A super tanker, the Esso Maracaibo was sailing out of the city in 1964, when it ran into trouble and hit pilings 31 and 32, killing 7 people and causing the collapse of 249 meters of the bridge to fall.  It took eight months to repair the damage.  There are tours offered that include documentary films explaining the techniques of building the bridge, the control room and how the bridge is monitored.  During the early years of this century, lights were added to some areas of the bridge which can be seen in Maracaibo and delights the city and visitors.  There is also an exhibition hall where several local artists have their works displayed, a museum that contains photos of the building of the bridge and a video that tells of the history of the bridge and the huge amount of construction work that went into it. 

  • Baralt Square
    When the Franciscan order came to Maracaibo, Venezuela in 1615, they constructed a convent to give shelter to the monks and a church that would honor their patron saint, Saint Francis.  Across from the church was a big lot of open land that bordered the edge of the southern parts of the port's docks.  This plot of land would become the foundation of the buildings where the open markets of the city would rise.  In 1882, a group of men came together to form the Baralt Society, to collect money for the construction of a monument that would honor Rafael Maria Baralt who was a well known literatus from the state of Zulia.  They decided that the open lot across from the church would be perfect and began building it in 1888.  As time went by, the name of the boulevard became Baralt and then it changed to Baralt Square, since the market closed in the area by the church and convent.  Buildings were thrown up and traffic increased as the area grew and finally by 1970, the downtown area was in such bad condition that the city created the Maracaibo Urban Restoration Plan that would clean up all the neighborhoods including the Baralt Square area.   Presently, the area has been replenished and it is the focal point of visitors and locals alike, with shops, stalls and every kind of store possible for the sale of goods to those coming here. 

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  • Virgin ChiquinquiraCatedral La Chinita Chiquinquira Maracaibo, Venezuela
    The Virgin of Chiquinquira in Maracaibo, Venezuela is one of the plethora of the figures of the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, that is around the world.  She is considered to be the patron saint of Colombia, the state of Zulia in Venezuela and the city of Caraz in Peru.  The main image is in Colombia, inside the Basilica de Nuestra Senora del Rosario de Chiquinquira, and the copy in Maracaibo, Venezuela.  Every November 18, the Feria de al Chinita is held and there are many masses and processions in honor of the Virgin.  There is a story about an old washer woman that is washing clothes in the lake when a board drifts up and she pulls it out and uses it for a decorational  wall hanging; because she is sure that some kind of religious image is on the board.  Sometime later, she notices that there is an image coming into view that resembles the Virgin of Chiquinquira and she cries out that a miracle has occurred.  Her house becomes a place of worship and prayer.

  • Palafito
    On the northern shore of Maracaibo, Venezuela,  villages that sit on stilts over the Lake Maracaibo still exist and are one of the most unique sights in the city.  They are called palafitos and are an Amerindian stilt village that is built on the waters of a lake or other expanse of water.  The name of Venezuela means "Little Venice" and is because these palafitos were here when Amerigo Vespucci of Venice came to this country to explore the huge lake.  They are built on poles or pillars and usually can be found on calm waters like lakes, ponds and streams; with bridges made of wood connecting them.  Small boats and canoes are also used to travel greater distances to the main buildings like a church, school or store.

May 11, 2011